BoDream News/ Closing the Loop – A Year on the Water

It’s another quiet and starry night at sea. While it may be beautifully serene, it is quieter than I’d like it to be. The wind has dropped down below 10 knots, and I’ve had to start the engine and motor sail in order to stay on a pace that keeps me content. You can lose days and even weeks at sea waiting for the wind, which is just fine by sailors, so long as they haven’t made plans and have commitments on land that cannot wait indefinitely.While in a bit of a trance staring into the deep darkness of the moonless night, I cannot help but reflect on what an amazing year this has been, and how it’s coming to a close … like a countdown clock, with each tenth of a mile clicking off on the GPS.
It was just a year ago that I had returned to New Zealand to continue sea trials of Bodacious Dream, after her successful launch in December 2012. Through January, we sailed her around Wellington Harbor; testing electronics, sails, equipment and other various functions, so that any problems could be addressed there. We even entered a local race of 140 miles from Wellington to Nelson on the South Island. That course had us sailing through the famous Cook Strait that separates the North and South Islands. Cook Strait is famous for its crazy winds – and it did not disappoint – delivering a fat 50-knot blow in the dark of night as we were returning to harbor. As we had hoped, BoDream easily withstood that test.
As January 2012 came to a close, we prepared Bodacious Dream for the trip to her home North Atlantic Ocean waters. With great flair and fun, we floated her over to a Dockwise yacht transport ship where she was secured along with other boats making the trip across the Pacific Ocean to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. She fit in nicely under the watchful eye of the 130-foot long Endeavor, one of the grand dames of sailing yachts! These unique Dockwise ships (pictured here) flood themselves and then float the boats into the center of the ship. Once divers secure each of them in place with blocking and cables, the water is pumped out and the boats all sit high and dry, secured and ready for the long distance crossing.It was March when Bodacious Dream arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, where with the help of close friends Tom McDermott, Laurie Sampson and Tim McKenna, we sailed her the short 40 miles to West Palm Beach where we took a slip at the Rybovich Marina, where I commenced preparations for our summer of racing and travel.The Rybovich Marina is like a southern home to us, and our starting point for what has been a most remarkable season of sailing and racing encircling the Atlantic Ocean. As I write this, I am about 400 miles from the Rybovich Marina, where I will be closing the loop to our year on the water. Sailors have a special fondness for the notion of closing loops. On this watery round planet, circumnavigations are what it’s all about … whether we are talking small lakes, bigger lakes, islands, oceans or even the great globe itself.In May of last year, I sailed Bodacious Dream up to Charleston, South Carolina to compete in the Atlantic Cup Race with my fellow sailor Matt Scharl. Matt and I did the two offshore legs, taking a third in the first leg from Charleston to New York City, and a first in the second leg from New York City to Newport, RI, which put us well above our own expectations, and I think everyone else’s too! Solid racing in Newport with a team of local friends and sailors enabled us to finish second overall for the Atlantic Cup Race!

In late June, my good friend Kevin Finnegan joined me for the 1200-mile trip from Newport, up to Nova Scotia and back down the St. Lawrence River to Quebec City. Matt joined me there, along with Mark Zaransky and Emma Creighton. The four of us made up Bodacious Dream’s crew in the Transat Quebec – St. Malo Race - that took us from Quebec City back out the St. Lawrence River and across the North Atlantic, finishing in St. Malo, France! There were many great memories from that time – the pearlescent luster of Beluga whales, a windless night surrounded by playful whales sounding and breathing and the six days of endless jib reaching at near 20-knot speeds. We finished respectably – in the middle of the fleet – not bad considering our relative lack of experience with both our boat and Class 40 racing.

From St. Malo, I sailed on to Cherbourg with my French friend, Pierre. I stayed there a couple of weeks before moving on to Caen, on the Normandy Coast, for the start of the Normandy Channel Race. In my spare time, I had a chance to explore the French countryside and witness some of the World War II history that is such a significant part of this region’s heritage.

Jument LighthouseThe Normandy Channel Race proved a rather frustrating experience, as Matt and I were unable to stay competitive due to issues with our jib in the lighter than expected airs of the race. With that holding us back, we retired early from the race after having sailed across the English Channel, around the Isle of Wight, along the southern coast of the UK and out to Lands’ End – one of the great historical markers in the sailing world. Once on our own, we sailed down the western coast of France, past the famous Jument Lighthouse (pictured here in this well-known photo,) and made our way to Lorient, the center of short-handed and large trimaran sailing in France. Matt and I were like wide-eyed kids in a candy store pulling into Lorient in the wee hours of the morning, to tie up alongside these majestic sailing yachts.

From Lorient, I sailed on to La Rochelle and met up with a crew of friends from New Zealand to compete in the Mondial World Championships. For four days we raced hard all day long. We had our good races and won one of them from start to finish, but we had some not-so-good ones too. In the end, we finished a respectable 9th in the world. Naturally, we’d have loved to have finished in the top three, but the sailing was exceptional and many new friendships were made. After all, how unimaginably lucky were we in the first place; nine months out of the boatyard and finishing in the top ten of a World Championship Race?

With our racing schedule concluded, it was time for Bodacious Dream and I to head for home waters on the other side of the Atlantic. I had just finished preparing her for the long trip, when we were forced to change our plans because of Hurricane Sandy. So instead, we set sail for the wonderful port of Cascais, Portugal where Bodacious Dream waited for me to return from a jaunt back home for Thanksgiving.

On December 7th, just about a month ago, we departed from Cascais heading for North America. Our only stop was a brief one on the island of Madeira for more fuel and provisions. At that point, we could see from weather and wind forecasts, that this was going to be a longer than anticipated trip across the Atlantic.

22 days later, we slipped into the island harbor of Antigua at 2 AM in the morning. Finally coming to rest under a bright and full Caribbean moon seemed an appropriate and fitting finish to the big leg of our trip.

Dave & BoDream in AntiguaDave & BoDream in Antigua (Thank you Kevin Johnson!)

I’m now more than half way through the last leg of the trip, on my way back to where we started this journey. There remains less than 400 miles to go before I cross my tracks and “close the loop.” With the end of the voyage almost in sight, it feels very much like time to thank the many wonderful people who have been such an important part of this whole journey. Rather than name you all individually, I am simply going to salute and thank you all collectively for your part in all of this – whether you sailed, helped out or just followed along with our story. Whatever role you played, I deeply appreciate your support.

Once we close the loop, Bodacious Dream’s navigation system will show a bit more than 14,600 miles of sailing, since she was launched a year ago. In sailor’s years, that’s around about FIVE seasons of sailing – all completed in TEN months!

So now … just a little more wind and we’ll be heading back to Charleston for the next phase of the Bodacious Dream! After all, come May, we’ve got to return to defend our success in the Atlantic Cup Race!

Rollin’ along towards home, and wishing you all the best!

- Dave and Bodacious Dream

BD Atlantic Crossing/ Happy New Year from Antigua!

Happy New Year from Antigua!

I’ve been here now for a few days and have had some time to relax, sleep and enjoy the hospitality of this lovely island. It didn’t take long to make friends around here, and to connect with some old friends as well. By mid-afternoon after I’d arrived here, a dingy approached Bodacious Dream, and driving the dingy was one of the organizers of the Quebec-St. Malo race, in which we competed back in August. What fun it was to catch up … and how fortunate I was to have a personal tour guide around Antigua.

With it being the New Year’s holiday weekend, other friends from Quebec graciously invited me to join them for both the annual “Nelson’s Pursuit Race” – and for New Year’s Eve dinner as well. The 18-mile Pursuit Race is a fun one that they hold every New Year’s Eve here in Antigua. There is a handicap format to the race, with the slower boats being given a good head start, while the faster boats subsequently start at staggered times that match up to the handicap time allowances. This makes for great fun, as the fastest boats in the race, of which there were a few very large and very fast boats, have to try and catch up to the slower boats, and only get credit when they pass one of them. To top it all off, in honor of the Admiral Nelson’s pursuit of the French fleet in 1805, the slowest boat, called Old Bob, flies the French flag and fires a cannon at each boat that passes it. We had such a fine time on our boat, Ciao Bella. Many thanks for a great time to my friends from Quebec, Canada!

Ciao Bella out of Quebec
Ciao Bella down from Canada …

New Year’s Eve here was a grand spectacle at the Nelson Boat Yard, which is a National Park here in Antigua, much of it a restored fort and boat works from the early days of sailing ships. The actual midnight moment was celebrated with fireworks bursting from the cliffs over the harbor accompanied by a symphony of boat horns and revelers that continued long into the New Year.

But now, with some good rest under my belt, it’s time to head north through the Caribbean towards Charleston, South Carolina. It’s a 1400-mile long course from here to Charleston, but there are places to stop along the way, so I’ll probably break the trip into a few different segments. The first segment is likely to be a short hop to St. Thomas in the British Virgin Islands, then on towards the Turks and Caicos Islands, though I haven’t been able to find a marina there that can accommodate the 10’ draft (the lowest point) of Bodacious Dream – so that’s still a tentative stop. (If anyone knows the region, and has some advice to offer, I’d greatly appreciate any local knowledge!) From there, I’ll sail up through the Bahamas and possibly stop for a few days in West Palm Beach to visit our friends at the Rybovich Boat Yard – before continuing on to Charleston.

Some sweet trade winds sailing ...Some sweet trade winds sailing …

The weather looks favorable from here to the Bahamas. At that point, we begin to get into the zone where the cold North American currents mix with the tropical systems, and so weather forecasting becomes more unpredictable. So, my plan is to move up to West Palm Beach, and then to reassess the weather at that point, before heading farther north. With some luck and fair weather though, I’m hoping to arrive in Charleston by the 10th of January.

Tomorrow I’ll spend the morning gathering the last of my provisions, charts and other items – and pack the boat with the intent of heading out of the harbor about noon. I’ll try to keep you informed during my long nights on watch, as to any interesting things happening.

This trip will be a lot different than crossing the open ocean, as there will be a lot of navigation required around and past islands and reefs – but that will also provide me with interesting scenery at various waypoints along the route.

So, I want to thank you all so much for following along with this adventure. Once I got to shore, it was a great pleasure to catch up on the many notes that you all sent. I’m glad that you find the stories entertaining enough to provide a little diversion from the regular news of the day.

So, with that … it’s time for us to get ready – both to sail the final legs of this journey – and to make our way into a brand new year. 

From us out here in the warm tropical air, a wish to all of you, wherever in the world this finds you – a most happy, peaceful and prosperous new year!

- Dave and Bodacious Dream

BoDream News/ Under Lucky Stars – 9.17.12

Hello Everyone!!

As I write this, Bodacious Dream is safely moored in La Rochelle, along the mid-western coast of France, halfway between Bordeaux and Nantes. I made the delivery here this past weekend to prepare for our upcoming race - The Mondial Class 40 World Championships - but more on that in a moment.

One of the unique things about many of the harbors in France is the dramatic range of tides that make them virtually inaccessible during low tides. In order to make this work, locks are installed which keep the water in the basin where the boats are, while the tide changes. Here in La Rochelle, the tide can be in excess of 10 feet, and so with tides ebbing and flowing (high and low) twice a day, the locks are only open twice a day.

La Rochelle Harbor at High Tide
La Rochelle at High Tide 

For this trip from Lorient to La Rochelle, that meant I could only get into the harbor at 3am or 3pm – and only for a two-hour window.

La Rochelle at Low Tide
La Rochelle at Low Tide 

Coming into a strange harbor on your own in the dark of night is not considered good practice, so I opted for the 3pm option.

Lorient to La Rochelle is about 140 miles. Class 40′s sail so easily that it’s not uncommon under pleasant conditions, to reach speeds of 9 or 10 knots. Friday’s weather offered a nice 15 knot breeze from behind for most of the day until evening, at which point the wind died down to nearly nothing. Upon completing my calculations, it became apparent that if I sailed the boat hard and motored when there was no wind, I’d get to La Rochelle just after the locks closed in the early morning, and would have to wait 12 hours for them to open again. With the forecast for a pleasant night and decent weather, I jumped at the chance to just sail in super relaxed mode.. a chance that doesn’t come along very often when you are in a race.

I left Lorient at noon on Friday and sailed with the A5 spinnaker, as I wanted to see that it had been repaired properly after being damaged during the QuebĂ©c-St. Malo race. The afternoon progressed quite nicely with the auto-pilot keeping us skipping along at 11 knots. Sunset came about 8pm, and with it the anticipated dying breeze. Typically, I’d work harder to keep the spinnaker flying and the speed up, but with so much time on my hands, I just rolled up the spinnaker and let the sails relax their way towards La Rochelle.

Through that very quiet evening and night, I had time to reflect on what an amazing journey this past year has been. Gliding along at little more than 4 knots of speed, I took in the canopy of stars, and gazed out the transom at the glowing phosphorescent trail from the rudders. From where I was, I could see the lights of the French coast twinkle on and off as I sailed by. Napping on occasion, snacking on some cheese and crackers, allowed me some time to relive memories of the past 12 months.

It was just about a year ago that I made my first trip to New Zealand to see work on the hull and deck of Bodacious Dream coming together. From there, sailing to Nelson on the South Island of NZ, to Auckland and onto the ship that brought Bo Dream to Ft. Lauderdale. Then up the coast to The Atlantic Cup Race in May and the great fun of winning the offshore leg. Then the delivery to QuebĂ©c City for the QuebĂ©c-St. Malo race, which took us up the beautiful St. Lawrence and across the Atlantic for this extended stay in France. The Normandy Channel Race followed, and now down to La Rochelle to compete for the World Championship. Any one of those events would be reason enough to consider oneself a most lucky person. Toss in all the wonderful people I’ve met along the way, and “lucky” just doesn’t seem to cover it. “Incredibly fortunate” is perhaps more accurate.

So, as I prep for the World Championships, my plan is to send out a few more updates – finishing the story of the QuebĂ©c-St. Malo race as well as more on the Normandy Channel Race. Stay tuned for those now past due updates.

Mondial Class 40 World ChampionshipAnd keep a look out for news on the Mondial World Championships that start October 3rd here in La Rochelle. The format here will be “course” racing. There will be a series of races each day and point totals will be added up at the end of the event on Saturday with the title of World Champion going to the lowest point total. First place gets 1 point, second 2, third 3….and so on. We’ll be up against some of the top talent in Europe in this event, so we (and my crew of 5 experienced New Zealanders!) look forward to some fun and exciting racing. The coverage won’t be like the tracking of the long distance races, but there will be updates on the Mondial website each day. (The site’s in French, so if you can figure it out, use your browser “translator.”) But we’ll also be providing updates on the BD website as well as on Facebook and Twitter, so that you can follow our progress that way as well.


And thank you all for being part this amazing adventure. Remember, life is a grand adventure, live it all, live it always!!

- Dave

BoDream News – 8.13.12

Bodacious Dream and I are now in Cherbourg, France. We left St. Malo on Saturday with a young man named Julien who was introduced to me by friends on Campagne de France. Julien is a great young sailor with an energetic and fun attitude. Together we covered the 100 miles to Cherbourg in about 15 hours, in what I’d call a very pleasant sail. On the way, we passed the Channel Islands of Guernsey, Jersey, Sark and others. Interesting areas I’ve heard about and read about through history and sailing. Now I’ve been there!!

sunset off sark & guernsey islands
Sunset just north of Sark and Guernsey

I’ll be here in Cherbourg for a couple of weeks before we head to Caen for the Normandy Channel Race which starts on September 2nd. The Normandy Channel race covers 1000 miles of the English coast line out to Fastnet Rock and back to Caen. Again we will be up against some great competitors, many of whom we haven’t yet met, which will make it even more fun.

While here on the Normandy coast and in Cherbourg, I plan to take some time to visit and see some of the historic sites of World War II and the D-Day Invasion. This will be interesting as I remember the stories my Uncle Frank told me of being in the first wave on D-Day.

I’ve been working on more updates on the St. Malo race for you, and will be sharing those here in the next couple of days. In the meantime, if you’re up for a few great short stories, I have a great link for you — let me explain.

Harry Mark Petrakis and his wife Diana have been like a second set of parents to me since I was very young. Dean, their son and I grew up together and Harry was always offering up advice and wisdom as we came of age. Since those years, Harry and Diana have always looked out for me, often finding work for me when times were tough and gave me much of my first starts in construction. Harry has spent a lifetime writing short stories, novels and a major motion picture — A Dream of Kings. His works are regarded as major contributions to literature.

On occasion, Harry writes an essay which is published in a Chicago newspaper, the Sun Times… the series is seven or eight pieces long at this point, and the most recent one was published this past weekend. It was forwarded to me by Mark, Harry’s oldest son and the architect of our web and social media presence. And on an additional note, Diana, the steadfast matriarch of the Petrakis family and the one who has kept watch over us all, celebrated her 90th birthday yesterday!! Happy Birthday Diana!!!

So if you care to read a sweet recollection about the hobos that came thru the small Chicago diner that Harry owned in the 1940′s and that inspired much of his later writing, here’s the link right here.

If you care to read more, here is the link to Harry’s other Sun-Times essays he’s written.. or learn all about his work at http://harrymarkpetrakis.com/

As for me, it’s back to washing more boat parts, creating a work list and making preparations for the Normandy Channel Race… oh, and following up on more stories for you from the Quebec-St. Malo race.

I’ll be back with more stories real soon,

- Dave

BoDream News – 8.08.12

Good Morning!!

Today’s weather in St. Malo is much improved over the past few days. The sun is out and bright and the temperatures are warm.  It has been more like northern Michigan since we arrived, which has made our work of drying out the boat a bit difficult.

It’s been a few days of recovering with great French food, lots of treats to choose from, good conversation and laughter with friends and working on the boat to flush out the salt water and dry the gear. The crew has all headed for home now, and I have some time to finish up the boat and develop a work list of items to prepare and fix for the upcoming Normandy Channel Race here in a few weeks. More on that later.

St. Malo is a beautiful little town….walled in for security some centuries ago, it was bombed and nearly demolished during World War II, but has been rebuilt with the same flavor of its original design. Coblestone streets, old buildings, neat shops and cafes along with street vendors, artisians and entertainers. Easy on your mind and comfortable on your soul, after a long passage.

Here’s a picture of all the boats lined up along the wall with the city in the backdrop, the last having finished just yesterday.   We think 118 is the nicest looking one there, but we understand our bias.
BD in St Malo

I’ve got to head over to do some laundry, take care of a few things and hopefully find a quiet spot to write up some more stories from the race to share with you all.  Give me a day or so and I’ll have some more updates.  Until then….enjoy the dream.

- Dave

www.bodaciousdream.com

QuĂ©bec to St-Malo – Dave Post-Race1

Hey there Everyone!

Whoa!….what an amazing time we’ve had. We finished the race yesterday late morning, or maybe it was early afternoon…..seems to not matter much when the last 14 days all ran together. It was necessary for us to have a tow after the finish because of a questionable engine seal, so once we finished, they towed us to a mooring where we left the boat for 7 hours and came ashore to celebrate our finish. We were met by the other competitors and enjoyed a couple of beers with them before heading to grab burgers and showers. I’m sure we were a smelly bunch of sailors!!

Bodacious Dream in St Malo

The experience is beginning to set in now. What a beautiful place the St. Lawrence portion of the race is. The wildlife was amazing. Whales everywhere, dolphins, birds…. especially the lonely call of the Northern Loon. If you ever wanted to see that area of the continent, be sure to make time to do it. I certainly hope I’ll get a chance someday to do it at a more leisurely pace. And the trip across the “pond” as the regulars call it, was a blast sail. We hit speeds of 26 knots and can’t begin to describe the intensity of the ocean when the wind is up as it was……it seems to me there is enough energy in a couple of waves and the wind to power the world for months!!

We’re enjoying the town of St. Malo, this quaint village is surround by protective walls — as if it were a fortress. It was totally destroyed during World War II, but has been rebuilt much like original with the small cobble stone streets, little shops and restaurants and all the charm you’d expect from a French town. It seems I’ve been here before…..maybe a few lives ago as a ship’s captain……

We spent a few hours today undoing the boat and readying her for a wash out. We have to wait our turn for a hose to clean out the inside. Seems like that will be tomorrow and then we can relax some and figure out our next move. Until then, we’ll just hang out, enjoy the stories with the others, enjoy a BBQ party tonight and rest and restore our bodies.

Hope you all have enjoyed the trip with us. We certainly wished we’d done better in the end finish, but given this was our first trans-oceanic race and we lost a couple of sails, had some gear problem and had to nurse the boat some, we think we did well to keep the power on and pick off other competitors right up to the end.

Stay tuned for more stories!!

- Dave

QuĂ©bec to St-Malo – BD Update – Day 14

Good Morning Everyone!!

I awoke from my off-watch this morning to the first sighting of France. The opposite watch was thoughtful enough to provide a sunrise to go along with it. What a joy!! This past week of North Atlantic weather has brought us little sunshine or warmth. We are all in higher spirits, as we can easily track the mileage left to sail. 3000 miles becomes 1000 miles and then 500, 250 then 100 and less than 40 and now just a short sail. We are excited to see a competitor we’ve caught and hope there may be one more in our target sights before the finish. We’ve sailed hard to come back from the depths of the ranks after a few problems. In just a few hours, we’ll be celebrating and laughing having finished our first Atlantic crossing – a milestone for many a sailor and we are certainly among them now.

Just want to thank all our friends that have supported our sailing along the way and throughout our lives, and who have encouraged and helped us to reach for our dreams. Thanks too to Mark and Dean Petrakis who have created our new web presence and have been getting the updates posted and to you all. Great guys!! Thanks to Henri Lloyd for the foul weather gear…it has been blessed and thanked for many times in the past two weeks!! Thanks to Watershed for their waterproof bags… they do float and keep things dry…field tested right here! And a very special thank you to our sponsors William Blair for their support and to Earthwatch Institute for all they do to support the environment and education of it. This ocean is a beautifully amazing place. I’ll tell you more in the coming days..

Remember to Dream Bodaciously. We do!!

Thanks everyone.

- Dave, Matt, Mark and Emma

QuĂ©bec to St-Malo – BD Update – Day 14

85 miles to go. Working our way there, finally a semi-clear starry night. We can see the lighthouses on the coast of France. In every picture I’ve ever seen of people finishing a long ocean race, they always appear to be very happy, I can see why now!! Back into the drysuit for hopefully the last time.

Right now 48 miles from the finish, we have 3 knots of tide helping us. Just looking at the tides at St. Malo, they’re 37 feet. Guess when we will be getting to it – mid-ebb, awesome, a repeat of Newport. As dawn is breaking, there’s a boat right behind us.. Don’t know who it is yet.

- Matt

QuĂ©bec to St-Malo – BD Update – Day 13

Hello, from the bucking bronco,

Taking my iPad, sitting on the hippity-hop and starting to type.

Good times.. I am on day 8 of continuous drysuit wear and goggles – hard to get used to, but fully worth the effort. At times the only way to describe what it’s like is to take your average shower head triple the water volume and then stick your face in it for 10 seconds at a time and imagine you’re driving into waves at 20+ knots trying to avoid the next face full, which comes usually within a minute.

Sunny day today, first in many.. occasional line squalls, dolphins and even human life, saw a freighter today, first in 6 days.

Gotta go lie down.

BTW, my head after the bump, is doing fine,

-Matt